You guys know that I love a good theme
so for the month of January I will be doing a Friday Favorites series of my highlights from 2016. This week I decided to lead off with one of my favorite things ever -- books. I read a total of 42 books, which is just shy of the 48 I managed to read in 2014 and 2015. I enjoyed the majority of the books I read this year so this is not an exhaustive list (you can find that over on Goodreads), but just the highlights as I'm looking at them today.
Favorite Adult Fiction
The Golem and the Jinni, Helene Wecker
This was my absolute favorite book I read this year. It is not often that I rave about something because of how beautifully it is written (too much time spent around pretentious undergrads has soured that praise for me), but that is exactly what I go to when describing how much I enjoyed The Golum and the Jinni. It is an immigrant story, historical fiction, a bit of a love story, and fantasy. There is a sequel in the works, but part of me wishes there was not because the book was so magical I cannot imagine another could possibly compare. I hope to be joyously proved wrong.
Bellweather Rhapsody, Kate Raccula
I love a YA novel that treats its reader like a thinking adult no matter their age. The story, a murder mystery, takes place at a high school music festival in upstate New York. It is smart and funny and full of fun references. I was on bed rest when I read this one so that really added to the claustrophobic feel of the story. If you like YA and have not yet read this please do. And then come back and talk to me about it.
The Caped Crusade, Glen Weldon
Full disclosure, I am not a big Bat-Man fan. In general I have not been a DC girl in my comic reading or my movie viewing. But that does not detract at all from this book. This really fed the history nerd in me. Weldon has pulled together so much information but his tone keeps it from bogging the reader down in dry names and dates. Instead he brings a lot of humor and levity to the analysis, not taking himself too serious but also not making it so light that any larger argument he makes appears absurd.
Favorite New Release
Talking As Fast As I Can, Lauren Graham
Really could I have picked anything else? I've spoken before about how weird it is for me that everyone is into Gilmore Girls now, but it also means that there is an audience for more of this.
With the loss of Carrie Fisher I think we need more female role models to fill that cross-over role. Graham does not spend a large amount of time on Gilmore Girls itself, but what she does write is hilarious and full of fun behind-the-scenes tidbits I had not heard before. My favorite part of the book was her discussion of writing her novel while working on Parenthood and her process for writing. I have actually started to utilize the method she lays out with real results. It's also a short read which made it perfect for the pick up and go reading life I have these days.
Favorite Local Read
All the Missing Girls, Megan Miranda
I could also label this the creepiest book I read this year. If you have not already, don't read a lot of descriptions of this book. It is a thriller in the vein of Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, etc, but it is written in reverse. Sounds gimmicky but it really worked. I almost did not get this one because it takes place in a small fictional North Carolina town that was very clearly based on the area in which I grew up (the author herself lives only thirty minutes or so from my hometown). But I had a real desire to read darker literature right at the end of my pregnancy / first few months after I had Pasha (weird, right?) and this totally fit the bill. I will probably pick this up on audio this year as a reread.
Dublin Murder Squad, Tana French
Now I have not read the latest in this series. I somehow missed preordering it and have not saved up enough spare change yet to pick it up from my local book store. However, I probably need to take a break anyway because I mainlined these books over the summer. The crazy part is that I already had the first book in my to-read pile but just had not gotten around to it. I picked it up at the used book store on a whim because the cover looked interesting and it took place in Dublin. Fast forward a few years, everyone is obsessed, and I have finally arrived at the party. I found the first book tremendously creepy but since then have not felt the need to hide under my covers with a flashlight. The change in narrator from book to book continues to pique my interest and is a great device to keep the series going beyond the point most traditionally structured mysteries would become exhausted.
Favorite Listen Fiction
Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty
This one came in right at the end. I loved listening to the narrator and the story so much that I've already queued up her latest book to listen to next. I don't know what about this book I liked the most -- the building of the timeline towards the pivotal event, the fact it took place in Australia, the choice of primary school moms as the cast of characters. You might have noticed that I prefer to go into books blind, particularly ones with any element of mystery, and this was no exception. It is being adapted for television as we speak, so if you care about such things read it soon.
Favorite Listen Non-Fiction
Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, Carrie Brownstein
I got completely lost in this book. I am of an age and region that a lot of the awesome 90s bands did not come across my radar until after they were well into their careers. Sleater-Kinney is sadly one of those bands and I am embarrassed to admit that I did not listen to much of their music before reading this book. Since reading it I have immersed Pasha and I in their back catalog and have immensely enjoyed it. But I also found her discussion of life as a female musician to be quite fascinating and highly recommend this as a supplement to any discussion of feminism in the modern era.
Was there anything you read in 2016 that you just loved? I'm building my reading list for the year and would love to hear your suggestions!